MUSIC | EDUCATION
Coming from a family of teachers, Rita R. Frady didn’t initially want to pursue education. She loved music, particularly piano, and wanted a career in that realm. Her husband suggested she combine the two, so Dr. Frady went back to school and found she loved it. She began as a K-6 music teacher for the Cherokee County Board of Education in 1991 and hasn’t looked back since. After 14 years in that role, Dr. Frady became a music teacher for the Hasty Elementary Fine Arts Academy of the Cherokee County Board of Education in 2005. She continues in that capacity to this day. During this time, she also served as an adjunct professor at Piedmont College.
Dr. Frady prepared for her endeavors by earning an EdD in teaching and learning education and an EdS in curriculum and instruction from Piedmont College, a master’s degree in early elementary education from Brenau University, and a Bachelor of Music in piano performance from the University of West Georgia. She attributes her success to ensuring she stays current in her profession by reading forums and articles and taking classes. Thus far, she had furthered her professional standing by earning a conversational solfege certification from John Feierabend, an educational first steps certification, a MIE certification, a P-5 teacher certification, a P-12 music educator certification T-7 from the state of Georgia, and a Microsoft in education certification. She also makes sure she never misses the Georgia Music Educator Conference.
Music | Education
Motivated by her tremendous love of music, Marilynn J. Smiley has dedicated more than 60 years to advancing the field. She started as a public school music teacher in Indiana in 1954, and joined the staff of the Music Department at the State University of New York at Oswego in 1961. Over the years, she served the institution as a distinguished teaching professor and as a department chairperson, and was responsible for music history and literature courses for all eras and at all levels. Dr. Smiley’s area of expertise ranged from Ancient Greek to current music history and literature, which made her an invaluable resource for students. One of her favorite parts of the job was presenting subjects to students and watching them respond with their own concepts and ideas. She was also proud of having her department accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music and of creating a diverse curriculum. In 2014, however, she accepted the distinguished title of professor emeritus.
Besides teaching, Dr. Smiley was involved at the school through committees like the Library Council, the Graduate Council, the Women’s Caucus, the Task Force on the Future, and the Women’s Studies Advisory Board, and as the advisor of both Mu Beta Psi and Vega, the Junior and Senior Women’s Honor Society. She also conducted a great deal of scholarly research through grants obtained from the SUNY Research Foundation and the National Endowment for Humanities. Her main focus was Renaissance music and various types of American music, as well as women’s studies. Dr. Smiley loved the satisfaction of discovering new ideas, concepts, and correlations, all of which brought a greater understanding to her field. She shared her findings with her peers by writing articles for professional journals and by presenting papers at several musicology conferences of the American Musicological Society and the Society for American Music.
Although Diane Elaine Pirlot didn’t initially want to be a teacher, she is thrilled that her path led her to education. She started out working at her family’s Michigan resort, Welker’s Lodge, Inc., and loved having the opportunity to meet all kinds of people. When Ms. Pirlot’s granddaughter was diagnosed with dyslexia, however, she saw that the teachers didn’t understand how to handle it and knew she had to do something to help. Now, Ms. Pirlot is thriving as a special education teacher and elementary teacher at the OUSD Ivey Ranch. Her main responsibility is to work with severely handicapped children and enable them to participate more in the world.
One of the highlights of Ms. Pirlot’s career was teaching a third grade girl with cerebral palsy and quadriplegia. The girl wanted to learn how to read, and by the time she got to high school, she was competent enough to move from special education to general education and ended up graduating with an “A” average. Ms. Pirlot is so proud of the difference she made in that student’s life, and in the lives of all of her students. Looking to the future, she hopes to be remembered as someone who was always there for others.
Education | COmmunity Development
Focused on ensuring inclusive environments for minorities, Sheila D. Ards is an expert at developing communities. She began her journey at the University of Texas at Austin as an accounting major, but discovered a passion for public policy during a summer program at Carnegie Mellon University. The institution offered her a full ride to earn a PhD from the School of Urban and Public Affairs, which she did in 1990. Her dissertation was on child abuse and neglect. She also wrote a major paper that looked at poor communities and ways to rebuild them.
Dr. Ards’ first professional position was with the University of Maryland, where she taught in the School of Urban and Public Affairs. She then joined the University of Minnesota for four years before accepting a wonderful opportunity to go to Benedict College in South Carolina. Eventually, however, the University of Minnesota recruited her to come back as the associate vice president for community engagement. She remained there until her retirement.
Music | Education
Involved with music for as long as she can remember, Linda F. Vaughn continues to lend her services as an organist to the St. Peters United Church of Christ and to the Zion Lutheran Church. She has performed with the former since 2017 and the latter since 2015, preceded by positions as an organist with the Community Church of Christ and the First Baptist Church, an accompanist with The Chorale, the choir director of the First Baptist Church of Urbana, and a performer with the Evening Etude Mozart Music Club. Additionally, Ms. Vaughn was a choir teacher for Urbana School District #116 for 25 years. She considers the highlight of her career to be having the ongoing opportunity to learn and grow.
Ms. Vaughn prepared for her endeavors by earning a Master of Arts and a Master of Music from the Illinois in 1979 and 1975, respectively, and both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Music from Hope College in 1974. She also became a certified life insurance producer and a certified teacher in the state of Illinois, as well as a certified crochet instructor from the Craft Yarn Council. To keep in touch with her peers, she joined prominent organizations like the National Association for Music Education, Delta Omicron, Delta Phi Alpha, and the American Choral Directors Association.
Psychology | EDUCATION
An experienced marriage and family therapist, Eleanor Zeitlen Avinor continues to thrive in her private mental health care practice. She started the business in 2007 using her expertise in psychology, counseling, and psychological assessment, and wholeheartedly loves her work. She has also lent her services to her role as the academic director and head of the department of KEG Cards International since 1990. KEG cards are therapy tools she created to help foster emotional growth. They are now used all over the world.
Previously, Dr. Avinor was the academic CEO of KEG International and a researcher and teacher with the University of Haifa in Israel. She found she enjoyed advancing the field and sharing her knowledge with others, so she authored papers like “Shirley: ‘There is Not Enough’” for the Psychology and Behavioral Science International Journal and co-authored papers like “CMC among multilingual students of English for academic purposes: linguistic and sociolinguistic communicative factors in online written responses.” Over the years, she has become a trusted voice in psychology and has been invited to conduct workshops both nationally and internationally. She further keeps in touch with her peers through affiliation with the Israeli Association for Marital & Family Therapy, UTELI, and EUROCALL.
Education | Library Science
Focused on inspiring children to become lifelong readers and library patrons, Sharon Sappington has spent more than five decades working toward her goal. She had always loved books, and used to gather the neighborhood kids to read aloud to them. When it came time to choose a career, she felt like becoming a teacher and librarian was her destiny. Ms. Sappington proceeded to complete coursework at Florida Southern College between 1962 and 1964 and to obtain a Bachelor of Arts in education from the University of Florida in 1966. She furthered her education with postgraduate work at the University of Alabama in 1980.
Now, Ms. Sappington is using her expertise as a member of the Tale Tellers of St. Augustine and as a librarian for the First United Methodist Church. She previously worked as a library media specialist at A.H. Watwood Elementary School, a fourth grade teacher at Sadieville Elementary, and a fifth grade teacher at Tates Creek Elementary. Ms. Sappington’s library was special because she put a lot of effort into making sure her community loved coming. She always had some kind of live creature, including two iguanas she would walk on leashes to delight the children, and the top of every shelf had a giant stuffed animal. The library also had a boat to read in. The inviting atmosphere led her to earn a state award for having the best library program, which she considers to be one of the highlights of her career
Library Science | Education
Known as “The Book Doctor,” Mary Joan Kelly Nix has dedicated her life to bringing books to life for other people. Her goal is to help every child she meets become a lifelong learner, and to teach them how to think, research, and be creative. She prepared for her endeavors by earning an EdD, a Master of Education, and a Bachelor of Science from Louisiana State University in 1980, 1973, and 1970, respectively. She then became a certified English teacher, social studies teacher, city materials media center director, and school librarian.
Now, Dr. Kelly Nix is living out her dream as a librarian in the Dufrocq Elementary School Library and in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. She previously garnered experience as a librarian at Holy Family School, the principal at St. Isidore Middle School, a teacher in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, a writer and producer for The Video Company, an instructor of a conversation class at Louisiana State University, and a freelance writer, storyteller, and pre- and post-video producer. Additionally, she has developed instructional materials, sponsored yearbooks and literary magazines, and performed skits for people as “The Book Doctor.” One of the highlights of her career was when a little girl she had been working with hugged her and thanked her. The moment stuck with Dr. Kelly Nix because the child had autism, and she found being able to bridge the gap between that child and her world to be phenomenal and moving. Dr. Kelly Nix was also thrilled when a student gave her the “Book Doctor” moniker. She has used the designation ever since.
Education | Science
Fueled by a curiosity for the world around her, Diana Jeanne Cosand has found biology to be the perfect career. She loves that it grants her the opportunity to better understand the nature she grew up admiring, and to support causes dedicated to its conservation. One of her first positions in the field was ranger naturalist at Yosemite National Park. Ms. Cosand’s experience in that role was a real turning point because it sparked her desire to teach environmental biology. She proceeded to obtain roles as adjunct faculty in biology at Cerritos College, Irvine Valley College, Fullerton College, and Santa Ana College. In 2000, Ms. Cosand became an assistant professor of biology at Chaffey College, and in 2002, she became an associate professor of biology at the school. She remains in that role to this day.
To prepare for her endeavors, Ms. Cosand earned a Master of Arts in biology and a Bachelor of Arts in biology from California State University in 1991 and 1987, respectively. She credits her growth in the field to her professors, who guided and mentored her. She also notes that her time on an educational cruise in Alaska to see the site of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 was an impactful learning moment, as it brought her face-to-face with a real environmental disaster.
Education | Home Economics
Renowned for her expertise in education, home economics and health care, Allamay Anderson has been thriving as a professional development consultant in New York City since 1978. She started her career as a school food service dietitian for the New York City Board of Education from 1968 to 1988, and in 1988, she transitioned to become a home and career skills teacher at Louis Armstrong Middle School. A year later, Ms. Anderson joined the staff of Manhattan High School as a special education teacher, where she stayed for six years before becoming as AIDS resource coordinator. Ms. Anderson also garnered experience as a partner of Masiba Building Corp., owner of AEA Development Service, and executive board member of the School Education Alumni Association at Fordham University. From 2014 to 2018, she lent her services as an elementary school math and literary tutor at Kalamazoo Public Schools.
When Ms. Anderson isn’t working, she enjoys being active in her community. She is currently a leadership member of the Western Michigan University Life Long Learning Academy Center for Gerontology, where she has been since 2011. Prior to that, she was an assistant presiding partner of the Dynamic Investors Club from 1996 to 2007, and a member of the Long Island 28 Episcopal Cursillo in 1991, as well as a general vestry member and a vestry member of youth ministries for the Grace Episcopal Church from 1982 to 1985 and from 1996 to 1999, respectively. In 1983, Ms. Anderson was a member of the Kwanza Advisory Committee Urban Coalition in Puerto Rico, and from 1980 to 1983, she was an officer of the New York City Community Development Agency. She was also involved with the League for Better Community Life in the ‘70s.